Growing Pains: Rising Health Care Premiums and Rising Stars.
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With health care premiums in the United States increasing at a faster rate than income, some employers have started looking into alternatives. They’re growing increasingly dissatisfied with the current health care options available to their employees; at the same time, health care institutions are becoming frustrated with new contenders entering their market. While this phenomenon isn’t new, three leading companies – Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase – recently gained attention when they announced their plans to collaborate on the design and implementation of a new health care service for their U.S. employees.
As the endeavor was announced only recently, it’s unclear how these companies will accomplish such a tremendous feat and what this process will entail. The New York Times reported, “The companies said the initiative, which is in its early stages, would be ‘free from profit-making incentives and constraints,’ but did not specify whether that meant they would create a nonprofit organization. The tax implications were also unclear because so few details were released.”1 In the past, other large companies, such as Walmart and Caterpillar, have tried designing an internal health care system, but this will be the first time three industry giants have worked together on such an undertaking.
Some health care industry leaders look upon this project with skepticism, referencing past failures, whereas some business analysts claim that the demonstrable impact each of these companies has in its respective industry suggests this project will have a substantial effect. The New York Times noted, “[The] announcement landed like a thunderclap, sending stocks for insurers and other major health companies tumbling. Shares of health care companies like UnitedHealth Group and Anthem plunged, dragging down the broader stock market.”1 Another aspect of this project that has been met with skepticism is the process of merging, but as the traditionally separate institutions within the health care industry – such as pharmacies, insurance vendors and medical practitioners – merge their practices and platforms, such processes appear increasingly realistic. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase hope to imitate these collaborative initiatives and use their influence to its fullest extent.
If successful, the three companies may expand their services beyond their employees and to the general public.
Implications for Insurance Companies
Based on Fusion Hill’s experience working on branding, marketing and research projects in the health care space, our suggestions for those in the health care industry include:
- Keep an eye on it: First and foremost, make sure to follow industry news to stay up to date with how this situation progresses, as any success or failure will have wide-reaching impacts on the health care industry as a whole. This is a fascinating case study on a brand-new model of health care, and much can be learned from watching what happens.
- Reflect on tensions: This project was born out of major employers’ rising frustrations with increasing insurance premiums and a lack of flexible options. For future development and communication, brainstorm ways that your company could acknowledge and help alleviate these frustrations.
- Emulate successes: As this project comes to fruition, analyze ways in which it is successful and why, and consider incorporating elements of the project into your company’s offerings.
- Learn from failures: Likewise, spend time investigating any failures this project experiences in order to learn precisely what doesn’t work about this model for future development.
- New York Times. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Team Up to Try to Disrupt Health Care. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/technology/amazon-berkshire-hathaway-jpmorgan-health-care.html?emc=edit_na_20180130&nl=breaking-news&nlid=58144303&ref=cta. Accessed March 29, 2018.
April 18, 2018 | Research